Todd Fisher Recalls the Moments Before Mom Debbie Reynolds' Death: She 'Asked Permission' to Go Be with Daughter Carrie Fisher
In a new interview, Todd Fisher says he's still working through the pain of losing both his sister Carrie Fisher and mom Debbie Reynolds
“I think it’s important that you grieve and feel it,” he told Entertainment Tonight, adding that he feels “a little disoriented” but is “doing fine” three months after their tragic deaths.
Fisher and Reynolds will be remembered at a public tribute on March 25 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, where fans will be able to attend and pay their respects to the iconic actresses.
“No matter if you’re famous or not, I think having an event and having movies and pictures and feeling that is a good thing. It’s part of the process of grieving,” said Todd. “There’s a freeing sense to all of that,” he continued. “At the same time, it’s obviously a huge loss and they were my girls.”
Todd recalled talking to his mother the night Fisher died after she went into cardiac arrest on a plane at the age of 60, saying Reynolds began to prepare him for the day that she, too, would die.
“My mother said to me the night that Carrie died … we were talking that night and I didn’t know what was happening, but she was setting me up for her leaving the planet,” he said.
“I was like, ‘Well, look, fortunately we don’t have to face that right now, you know, we just face this,’ ” he continued. “But then she was like asking my permission [to go]. I [said], ‘You’re going to be okay, everything is under control.’ And she starts running me back through her estate, which we had done many times. [She’s like], ‘You’re going to take my dog and, you know, all these little instructions.’ And [she] even [went through] last-minute changes due to the fact that Carrie left first, as far as the memorial service.”
Reynolds died as a result of a stroke just one day after Fisher’s tragic death. She was 84.
Even Todd acknowledged the surreal nature of their passing within just days of one another, admitting that if he didn’t see it happen himself, he would “have a very hard time believing what I saw.”
“The next morning, we had a little further dialogue and she chose to leave the planet in front of my face two feet away,” he said. “If you had told me this story and I wasn’t there, I would have a very hard time believing what I saw. But she literally looked at me and said, ‘I want to go be with Carrie’ and closed her eyes and went to sleep.”
And while Reynolds had previously asked to be cremated when the time came, Todd said she “changed the whole game” after Fisher’s sudden death.
“She no longer wanted to be cremated, she wanted to be buried with Carrie,” he explained. “Now she wanted the tomb idea that I had brought up long ago and got sunk. ‘No, I don’t want a big tomb, I don’t want to draw any attention to myself,’ [she said], but now with Carrie gone she said, ‘Okay.’ So we bought this great tomb over at Forest Lawn [cemetery]. She changed her mind that night.”
Reynolds was buried on Jan. 6 with some of her daughter’s ashes. The day before, friends and family of Fisher gathered for an intimate memorial at her Beverly Hills home.
Todd said that while Reynolds’ death was certainly hard on the family, he knew it’s what his mother wanted.
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It looked like she asked permission to leave, told me she was going to leave, told me she loves me, closed her eyes and went to sleep,” he said. “That’s kind of a magical, beautiful thing. As much as it’s also hard, it’s what she wanted.”
He also clarified that Reynolds did not die of a broken heart, despite some reports.
“I did not actually say that,” he confirmed. “The news said she died of a broken heart. I actually contradicted it. I said, ‘No, that is not true. She didn’t die of a broken heart, she went to be with Carrie. She said those words to me.’ ”
He continued: “She said, ‘I really want to be with her,'” he continued. “Those are all the words that were spoken and she closed her eyes. So, she did what she wanted to do. That wasn’t like a person that was sitting there saying, ‘My heart is broken.’ It was not some scene from Macbeth. She truly just understood what happened.”
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Todd said he is “really okay” with his mother’s death but is still struggling to cope with the suddenness of losing his sister.
“Carrie was in the middle of what was, I thought, her finest hours,” he explained. “Her creativity was peaking, the Star Wars thing was obviously back in spades. Everything that she was doing was turning to gold.”